A Year of Coddiwomple

In 2015 my word for the year ahead was transformation and wow, did we ever do it up right. We sold our house and the majority of our material goods, we moved into our camper and headed south to points unknown in search of a different lifestyle.

2016 found me choosing surprise as my word for the year and, once again, the universe provided. In fact, no one is more surprised than I to find myself not somewhere in southern Central America, but back in Mexico!

For 2017 I may have found the perfect word to truly describe not just the year ahead, but a more general thought on our life in general:

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A Lesson in Coffee Production ~ Guatemala Style

I was never one to appreciate coffee, just as I was in my mid 20’s before I developed a taste for beer. I totally blame this on my parents. Growing up in small town Minnesota with Folgers instant coffee and restaurants, ok lets be honest and call them truck stops, chosen merely for offering a bottomless cup of bad coffee did not inspire the desire to imbibe. In addition, my parents also drank this bad coffee loaded with milk and sugar as one does, of course, when drinking crap.

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Expressing Gratitude

Thursday was Thanksgiving in the United States, a day originally meant to focus on strengthening relationships across cultures, religions, and colors. While this isn’t the forum for political chatter, lets just say the “state of the union” is pretty damn dismal this year.

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Gear Review ~ Lodge Dutch Oven

Overlanders depend on their gear. After all, most of us are homeless in the traditional sense. The road is our home, and the gear we travel with can make or break the trip. As very active campers even in our old life, we were quite certain what cooking gear was going to make the list for the PanAm. Although we quibbled over and considered a few items, one item never in doubt was our Lodge Dutch Oven.

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Fighting for Freedom

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 10

10 days of blogging daily. An admirable goal, and a challenging one since I had three days of travel within that 10 day period.

Here, one day late, is my final post to Natalie’s blog challenge. I am so glad I participated. So glad it got me into a habit of writing a bit every day, even if it is a short post. I find myself often bogged down, on a time limit, and having SO much to say about a particular site or place, that I would wait until the perfect time to get that post up and published.

Going forward, my goal is not to undercut each experience, but to focus more on consistency of sharing, rather than making sure each post is fully rounded. Perhaps I’ll do more than one post on each spot we visit. Perhaps one post will be about our experience, and one about the ins and outs of visiting. I’m not sure exactly where this new theory will lead, but I”m excited about it.

In a mere 6 days we change countries for the first time in NINE MONTHS. There will be new challenges, a new currency, a new way of thinking. All exciting and, yes, a little intimidating. Viva la Mexico… watch out Guatemala.. here I come!

The DREAM of Location Independence… is it?

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 9

I know, I know.. I”m a day behind in my challenge quest. My adventure challenge turned into a two day jaunt between the mountains, and a surf camp on the Pacific!

Now I am back in the land of the internet and ready to continue my blog challenge! I expected Natalie’s 10 Day challenge to become more, well, challenging as it progressed. In my case, what to write about is getting easier because I am already living a nomadic, location independent life!

And here is what I’ve learned. It’s HARD. Life balance is a mystery to most folks, even if that life involves a 9-5, and relatively set schedule. Something always seems to take a back seat in the quest to make 24 hours last longer. Often that is exercise. Or seeing friends. Or spending time with your significant other.

Magnify these challenges with life on the road. Now, as Natalie states in her video for day 9, there are many ways to live a location independent life. Whereas at this time we are very, very nomadic, our end goal is actually to start making a good enough living to live anywhere we want in the world, at any time we wish.

However, for now I will just address my life as it exists today. These last two days is a mere snippet of what our daily life entails. Travel days are simply hard. We do our best; we have the camper nearly ready to go the night before. We get up early. We eat a quick breakfast. We start the day with a positive mindset. Often, it all goes well. Yesterday, it did not.

Two days ago, we spent over three hours attempting to send money to our house rental in Guatemala… unsuccessfully I might add. We are still trying to work it.

After a lovely evening at Hierve de Aqua, high in the hills of the Oaxaca Valley, we prepared to head towards the state of Chiapas, which requires heading to the Gulf of Mexico, or the Pacific. We chose the Pacific and spent seven hours driving a mere 180 miles, along endlessly scenic, but also endlessly winding roads. The views were stunning, but by hour 5.5, as the heat index rose, and the exhaustion of Mexico driving kicked in, crankiness ensued. By the time we reached camp the temperature on the dash read 102 degrees, and I think the temperature in the truck may have been even hotter as tempers flared.

We had been advised the camp had internet. I needed to check emails and write this post. It didn’t. Aspen was melting into a ball of black fur. Sweat ran like torrential downpour down my body as we got a quick camp set up. I was angry. Angry at the lack of internet. Angry at the 10 minute walk to the actual ocean. Angry at Jim, for no other reason than I couldn’t very well be pissed at Aspen right? Angry at the heat.

And then we took some deep breaths. We had a tequila shot. Then an ice cold beer. We found a place in the shade where the breeze hit and spent some time reading. I took Aspen into the shower to wet her down, and reduce her panting. We chatted with the surfers in residence, mostly about the heat. I started to focus on the joy of not “having” to do anything, at least for now.

Today, we were back on the road. After a warm night, we headed first to the beach so Aspen could fetch coconuts in the Pacific. We once again headed to the verdant green hills to Chiapas state. The feared roadblocks and protests failed to surface, and the road was smooth, and relatively straight. Tempers stayed in check, and the temperature at camp was manageable. Back in the land of Wi-Fi, the laptop once again reigns as I return emails, check work deadlines, and write this post while we catch up with the last couple of weeks of Master Chef.

The life nomadic requires the utmost in flexibility. It requires ordinary challenges made extraordinary with language barriers and cultural differences. It requires discipline and the ability to deal with slow, or nonexistent, internet. It requires patience and tolerance and a very, very strong desire to make it work.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. That dream of “location independent” is real. The ability to choose when and where I work is a treasure like no other. After decades of being forced to pretend to work until my shift was over, after having to go to work the day after Thanksgiving, even when nothing would be happening. Those days are over. Yes, I am now working at 8pm on a Monday night. But I am sitting in Chiapas, Mexico. I am cozy in my camper with my husband, watching Master Chef and dreaming of new dishes to create. Aspen is nestled in for the night, after finishing off a special chew bone reward after being extremely patient herself these last two days.

At some point, my version of location independence is bound to change. I envision a continuation of my globe trotting ways, but perhaps house rentals for several months at a time. Perhaps a set location, with multiple trips each year to exotic destinations. Where the road will lead, I am uncertain. What I AM certain of, is there is no going back!

Choose Your Adventure

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 8

Well, this is an easy one, since our life is generally one big adventure these days! Today, we pack up camp after nearly three weeks in Oaxaca. We say goodbye to new friends, and challenge ourselves and our limited Spanish by heading to Walmart to send a Moneygram to Guatemala!

Just making the drive is an adventure all it’s own, as we are finding Oaxaca to be one of our very least favorite towns to drive in. The road planners were surely smoking something with weaving lane changes and intersections with six or eight entry points. Arrogant bus drivers and aggressive collectivos nearly cut us off repeatedly. This will be a challenging adventure, but an adventure nonetheless.

Next up, we head to the hills at Hierve de Aqua, a remarkable set of mineral springs, set on a mountain ledge, with amazing views. The “camping” there is rustic, with merely a set of bathrooms available to use, but the site is powerful. Once the day users leave, we are hoping to have the place to ourselves, under a full moon.

We will not have internet, so I won’t be sharing on Instagram today… but look for photos to come soon! Now go out and enjoy your own adventure!

The Perfection of Imperfection

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 7

Imperfection! What a wonderful thing to write about. It’s so much easier than trying to deal with perfection.

Today Natalie asked me to think about what one imperfect thing I can do each day to break the cycle of procrastination. While I don’t consider myself a perfectionist, I am certainly on the anal side of organization, and in the past have often found myself using the excuse of house cleaning, facebook, or reorganizing to procrastinate.

Going forward, I am going to focus on my imperfection on what serves me well; yoga.

In addition to incorporating the Pomodoro theory into my productivity plan, when faced with procrastination, I will spend five minutes focusing on my, very imperfect, yoga poses. I will focus on my breath, find my zen, and refresh my soul, all while perhaps tightening up my ass a bit more!

They say that it takes 15 days of consistent behavior to create a habit. This 10 days has given incentive to actively write each day. Going forward I am so excited to incorporate all of the tips garnered in this Freedom Plan Blog into each day well lived.

 

Finding My Tribe

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 6

My Tribe. Day 6 of Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan challenge is about something I consider essential. Not just to life on the freedom plan, but to life in general. Just consider the Zig Ziglar quote that  “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Now imagine how incredibly important those five people are!

I must admit, the past year was extremely challenging for me when it came to my tribe. While many of our friends rallied around us, perhaps considering us a bit off our rockers, but nonetheless thrilled we were chasing our dreams. Sadly, a good number of others, including family members, remained unsupportive, making the challenges of selling it all and leaving behind what we loved that much more difficult.

Luckily, we got through that first bleak page, and are forging ahead, finding a new tribe. Oh, I am still loving my old tribe and email daily with many of them. Although I can no longer pop in for dinner, I feel as close as ever. They are true friends for life.

But recently, our greatest inspiration is coming from our new tribe; those other hearty souls out on the road, living a life less ordinary. In the end, it is always the people that are what is important; those we leave behind, and those we meet along the way. Connecting with new friends in person makes it all the sweeter.

In the next two weeks we will be reconnecting with several of our tribe that we last saw in Baja, SIX months ago already, and greeting some new faces. However, in order to truly embrace Natalie’s challenge for today, I need to look look outside my overlander community to think about who I truly consider mentors.

Those people who have been out there doing it, living the life nomadic, making a location independent lifestyle work. For one of my fondest dreams is to meet them somewhere along the road, and thank them for being such incredible inspirations to me.

First up, I would need to mention Simon & Erin from Never Ending Voyage. I have been following their blog for years, loving their style of blogging and the fact that they had been on the road for years, living all over the globe. They fund their travels in several ways, but most recently with their amazing Trail Wallet app that we have used for nine months. We love it for keeping us on track and budget, even when it yells at us for overspending!

Secondly, Amy & Andrew from Our Big Fat Travel Adventure. They, too, started out on an extended journey, and are now hell bent on making road life work longterm by using a variety of income streams. Although I believe they are a bit ahead of us in the game, they are probably the online friends closest to us in terms of where they are in making it work.

Third, Tony & Steph of 20YearsHence. We have also been in contact with them for years. After their round the world journey, they came back for their pups and hit the road to Mexico. Now living in Playa del Carmen, they have been endless sources of information and inspiration, and we can not wait to meet them when we are in Playa the end of the year!

When I finally meet these three, inspiring, couples, I will first simply thank them for having the courage to leave their tribe at home, to find a new tribe out in the world. Then, if I had but one question to ask them, I would ask something I believe I already know the answer to; Do you think it was worth it? If they had to do it all over again, would they toss societies constraints aside and create a life less ordinary? Well, that is two questions, isn’t it?

Having been in contact with all of them over the last few years. I am sure they would proclaim loudly that YES, it is all worth it. Worth the stress, the challenges, the loss of an original tribe. All in pursuit of a life lived on their terms.

The Productivity Plan

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 5

Today our blogging challenge is to simply list how our day would look if we are in our most productive state.

The main point I really want to embrace, is an idea Natalie talks about in her video, the art of Pomodoro productivity.

In the next few days we will finally be leaving Oaxaca, Mexico to follow the road south, into Guatemala, as it were. We are renting two different cottages on Lake Attilan and spending a good couple of months embracing the climate, and focusing a lot of work to some pretty major changes we will be making on our business.

We had planned to go in, much as we did in Puerto Vallarta, with a relatively set schedule~ really following my perfect day description from day 3 of the challenge.

What I learned about from Natalie today sounds fantastically more productive, and not nearly so intimidating!

The art of Pomodoro involves making a list of your top 2-3 things you need to work on that day. You set your timer for 25 minutes, and focus solely on the first goal for 25 minutes. At the end of that time, you get up, stretch, and pet the dog, anything else for a couple of minutes. Then you set your timer for 25 minutes again, and off you go. This continues for either your set amount of work day or, of course, until you accomplish the work for the day.

I am excited and inspired. I can’t wait to get started. I am so incredibly focused on our plan for this next couple of months, all while looking forward to admiring the astonishing vistas of the area, I simply can’t sleep through the night anymore. This is what my focus day looks like…

  • Waken with our natural internal clock and head out for a good walk with Aspen, coffee traveler in hand.
  • Yoga… an essential to stretch out AND to get that Zen in place.
  • Breakfast admiring the views from our lakefront patio.
  • Rather than block out the 9am-1pm timeframe, we are absolutely going to put the principles of Pomodoro in place.
  • Lunch break. Play with Aspen. Enjoy lunch with a view.
  • I suspect most days, work will, once again, take over our afternoons. Generally 4pm is our quitting hour and productivity fades. I’m excited to see how the new way of working increases the time spent at the laptop.
  • Walk into town to enjoy happy hour, pick up something for dinner at the market, and get Aspen some more sniff time.
  • Dinner and a typical evening. Cards, movies, reading. We are SUPER excited that several overlander friends will be in the village at the same time as we are so our social life is about ready to jump into top gear!

I believe ALL of the principles already discussed in this 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge come into play. Without the plan and the why worked out, how can anyone expect to be willing to put in the work required? A productivity work plan seems like just the thing